9 Then I heard Him exclaim a judgment on the people of Jerusalem.
Eternal One: Heavenly executioners, approach the city! Have your weapons in hand!
2 I then saw six men marching from the direction of the upper gate which faces north. Each of them had a deadly weapon in hand. Another man accompanied God’s executioners. He was clothed in linen and carried a writing kit at his side. All of them entered and stood next to the bronze altar.
3 The glory of the God of Israel rose up from the winged guardian[a] where it had rested and moved to the doorway of the temple. Then the Eternal called to the man who was dressed in linen—the one carrying the writing kit at his side.
Eternal One: 4 Go through this city, yes Jerusalem, and put a mark on the forehead of all those who are grieved by the shocking things going on in the city.
The elders who come to Ezekiel to hear this vision must be confused. Jerusalem, they think, has already suffered enough. Surely it will not suffer more. But that is wishful thinking, not the prophet’s message. The subjugation of Judah to Babylon takes place over about 20 years. The Babylonians first assaulted Jerusalem in 605 b.c. and took some of the chief citizens into exile. Then in 597 b.c., Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem for 3 months, captured the city, looted the temple and palace, and deported many of the most prominent people to Babylon. The current exiles can hardly imagine anything worse, but it will happen. In 586 b.c., Nebuchadnezzar will return to Jerusalem, and this time he will leave nothing but ashes. After a grueling 18-month siege, Nebuchadnezzar will break through Jerusalem’s wall and level it, take whatever riches he desires, burn every building (including God’s temple) to the ground, and deport what few people survive the battle. This final battle and conquest will decimate God’s home; it will leave Jerusalem in ruins. There will be no place left for the exiles to return.
5 I listened as He addressed the other six, the heavenly executioners.
Eternal One: Follow this man through the city, and kill. Don’t shed a single tear of compassion. 6 Obliterate the old people, young people, even women and children. Slaughter them all! But don’t lay a finger on anyone with the mark on his forehead. Begin at My sanctuary.
So the executioners started by killing the elders in front of the sanctuary.
Eternal One: 7 Defile the sanctuary: fill the courts with the bodies of the slain! Go!
So they continued their slaughter in the city. 8 While they went out to kill the people, I was left alone. I fell down and buried my face in the ground. I cried out to God.
Ezekiel: O Eternal Lord! Do You intend to wipe out everyone left in Israel the way You unleashed Your anger on Jerusalem?
Eternal One: 9 The sins committed by the people of Israel and Judah are very great and serious indeed. The land is saturated with blood. The city has perverted justice. They all say, “The Eternal has abandoned the land to our Babylonian conquerors and their gods, so He doesn’t see anything.” 10 Therefore, I will not spare them or shed tears of compassion. I will set their deeds on their heads. They have done this to themselves.
11 Right then, the man clothed in linen and carrying the writing kit at his side returned and said, “I have done as You commanded.”
- 9:3 Hebrew, cherub